Paint the Town and Sculpture on Main improve quality of life and economy


Martha League of Spicewood set up her canvas on the ground at Candlelight Ranch during Paint The Town 2018. This year outdoor artists will spend a day painting at That Joint in Spicewood, an 1897 post office that now serves as a event location. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

Paint the Town and Sculpture on Main return to Marble Falls this year for the second time as a combined arts festival, building on the success of last year’s first dual event.

“People loved having even more art to look at and enjoy,” said Janey Rives, one of the people who helped start Paint the Town in 1996. She and her husband Bill Rives were part of the team who founded Highland Lakes Creative Arts, a non-profit organization that promotes artists, arts education and arts events in the region. Sculpture on Main was created in 2005 by Russell Buster, owner of the Uptown Theatre.

Sculpture on Main is both an annual weekend event with sculptors bringing tabletop pieces to display and hold art demonstrations and lectures as well as a year-round outdoor art exhibition along Main Street. The approximately 20 outdoor pieces used to be changed every year, but now they stay longer, becoming an integral part of the community.

Paint the Town is a week-long outdoor competition that includes a student art day, a nationally recognized artist as judge, prizes, an auction, and an art exhibit. The event attracts artists and visitors from across the country. Thirty artists have qualified to participate in this year’s competition.

Combine these two events with the growing number of galleries on Main Street and across the Highland Lakes, including the Highland Arts Gallery in the former Main Street Post Office, and art has become both a tangible and an asset. intangible for the region.

Christian Fletcher, executive director of the Marble Falls Economic Development Corp., quantified the tangibles for The Picayune Magazine.

According to EDC figures, gross sales in the arts/entertainment/leisure industry sector increased from $596,488 in 2012 to $1.7 million in 2020. Additionally, currently 1,083 people are employed in arts/entertainment/recreation in the Marble Falls commercial area.

He also had something to say about intangibles.

“Communities that feature the arts tend to be more interesting than those that don’t,” he said. “Having a vibrant arts scene is a frequently mentioned element of quality of life. Public art, in particular, broadens the appeal of a community to a wider audience.

Bonus points go to the fact that art, especially public art, is free for everyone and another attraction in a community that attracts tourists.

“Artists contribute so much to the fabric of a community, often bringing unique and creative perspectives to the table,” Fletcher said.

Community art events also open up opportunities for young people, like sculptor John Russo III. He grew up in Marble Falls and is the son of Diane and John Russo, who owned Russo’s restaurant, which served Marble Falls for 29 years before closing in 2020.

“Since Sculpture on Main came to Marble Falls, it’s something I’ve wanted to be involved in,” he said. “It always felt a lot bigger than Marble Falls when it comes to arts in a small town.”

Russo, who lives and sculpts in South Austin, will be participating in Sculpture on Main for the first time this year.

“I started out as an artist as a teenager, painting and drawing,” he said. “I have a background in fine arts. Over the past two years, I’ve had the opportunity to get into metalwork and mixed media. »

Russo works mild steel shaped into geometric shapes. He participated in several shows in Austin. His art can be found on Instagram @russo_three.

“Coming to Marble Falls, where my family is so well known, and participating in this event is special,” Russo said. “It’s nice to be able to show my own voice as Russo.”

Rives, who has been involved with both events since their debut, agreed that they are special for the artists involved.

“It’s a fun time for artists,” she says. “They love coming to Marble Falls. Time and again, they tell us it’s one of their favorite events. They are all eager to come.

Art lovers appreciate it too. Fletcher certainly anticipates the event every year.

“I know I look forward to buying a new piece every April,” he said. Fletcher adds an outdoor piece to the wall of his office after each event. “I think the Highland Lakes Creative Arts team has established a great foundation with Sculpture on Main and Paint the Town. I think these events are about to grow with the community and get bigger and better every year.

Don’t miss the 2022 events. For more details, visit hlcarts.com.

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